Deborah Green


As senior lecturer and course coordinator in Arts Therapy for the Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design, I am currently taking on a reduced number of private clients.

I believe my strength as an arts therapist is in my creative work with individuals and groups experiencing trauma. This specialised focus on using arts therapy to help people expression and address trauma began in the early 1990’s when I worked with individuals and families with HIV/AIDS in South Africa and was deepened when earthquakes began battering Christchurch in September 2010.

After the February 2011 quake, I facilitated arts therapy sessions with groups of quake-shaken children and adults to help them express their distress and find some peace. I was then contracted to the Canterbury District Health Board to work specifically with earthquake-stressed children. In addition, I worked one-on-one with children and adults from all walks of life who either came privately, or were referred by GPs and the Hospitals. My clients – who ranged in age from 5 years to 75 years old – came to me with a wide variety of problems including trauma, anxiety, chronic pain, depression and grief.

While I still work with lots of problems related to the earthquakes, I now also have clients with other issues too. My clients and I work creatively – and often playfully – using mindfulness-based arts therapy and a mixture of arts materials and approaches including visual art-making such as drawing, painting, clay modelling, dance/movement, drama and creative writing in a studio in Lyttelton.

In addition to my one-on-one arts therapy work, I have run various training workshops with local organisations and am available to run groups and offer supervision. I have run regular sessions at MHAPS, training workshops and/or therapy/supervision sessions for various bodies including Canteen, Salvation Army, Familial Support, Women’s Centre, Family Works/Presbyterian Support, Christchurch Hospital Paediatrics, Burwood Hospital Beacon House and Red Pencil.

I am registered with the Australia, New Zealand and Asia Creative Arts Therapy Association (ANZACATA). I have published several articles in peer-reviewed journals and books and presented at Conferences in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, London and Canada.

I was born in Zambia, raised in South Africa and have lived in Scotland, England, Australia and on the North Island of New Zealand before, in 2008, succumbing to the beauty of the South Island, Christchurch, and Lyttelton in particular. Before arriving in New Zealand, I collected a few qualifications in Africa – including an Honours degree in Drama, a Postgraduate degree in Adult Education and a Master’s degree in Education – and began my career in the early 1990’s in the fields of community development, adult education, and life skills/HIV/AIDS education and counselling. I worked for South African Universities and the Health Department using a range of creative approaches including drama-in-education and community theatre.

In New Zealand, I gained a Master’s degree in Arts Therapy (Clinical) and in was awarded my doctorate through the University of Auckland, Department of Education, for a thesis exploring my experiences as an arts therapist both living through and helping others live through the Christchurch quakes.

For a sense of my approach, have a look at an open access article of mine, accessible at:

Most recent publications in international peer reviewed academic journals and books
Green, D. (2020). Mortification meanderings: Contemplating ‘vulnerability with purpose’ in arts therapy education. The Arts in Psychotherapy. (68).

Green, D. (2018). Arts Therapy, Imagical Play, and Trauma: Exploring Arts Therapy during the Canterbury Earthquakes. The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review, (13)1. (Journal)

Green, D. (2018). Making-sense of poietic presense in arts therapy and education. Creative Arts in Education and Therapy 4(2):139–148 DOI: 10.15212/CAET/2018/4/21

Green, D. (2018). Reclaiming messy-mudpies & magic through poiesis, education & arts therapy. The International Journal of Arts in Education (IJAE), Special Multi-Journal Edition titled: Global Narratives in Art Education, 31-57.

Green. D. (2019). Communitas and soul-healing: arts therapy within the loss-upon-loss of natural disaster. In M. J. M. Wood, B, Jacobson, & H. Cridford (Eds.), The international handbook of art therapy in palliative and bereavement care (pp. 340-356). New York & Oxon: Routledge.

Green, D., & Evans, B. (2018). Kites and shaking hearts in the rubble. Australia and New Zealand Journal of Arts Therapy, 13(1&2), 35-46.

Green, D., Pears-Scown, N., Weir, M., Csata, I., Heney, R., McGeever, M., Lambert, R., Marks, K., & Wang, I. (2018). The arts of making sens/e. Australia and New Zealand Journal of Arts Therapy, 12(1), 112-130.

Most recent conference presentations
The Arts in Society International Conference, July 2018, Vancouver, Canada. Presentation/workshop title: Arts Therapy, Imagical Play, and Trauma: Exploring Arts Therapy during the Canterbury Earthquakes.

The Inaugural British Association of Art Therapy and American Art Therapy Association Research/Therapy Conference, July 2019, London, UK. Training workshop title: ABR+A: The Arts of Making Sense.

The ANZACATA International Arts Therapy Symposium, Brisbane, October 2019, Brisbane, Australia. Coordinated and co-presenting a participatory session alongside eight students from the Whitecliffe Master of Arts in Arts Therapy programme. Session title: ABR+A: The arts of knowing.